Poor Air Purifiers

Consumer Reports tests air purifiers in this sealed chamber. A measured amount of dust is forced into the room, followed by cigarette smoke.

To see how well each air purifier works, this machine measures the levels of particles in the air over the course of half an hour.

Included in the tests were these two units that are designed to clean the air with the help of ozone. Consumer Reports found the do a poor job of removing smoke and dust, and they emit very high levels of ozone.

"Ozone is not something you want added to the air you breathe, especially if you have a respiratory problem" says Consumer Reports Rico de Paz. "It can aggravate asthma and reduce lung function."

So Consumer Reports has named not acceptable the Eden Pure Area Model and the EcoQuest Fresh Air for use by homeowners.

Rico de Paz also tested air purifiers from market leaders Oreck and Sharper Image. The Sharper Image Hybrid GP Germicidal Air Purifier is $500 and the Oreck tower, the XL Professional Air Purifiers is $700. But neither rated good at cleaning the air.

For much less the Whirlpool Whispure model number AP-450-30-S for $230 and earned top-ratings. It uses only a filter to clean the air, so it doesn't emit any ozone at all.

And how about the claims many air purifiers make that the unit is "antibacterial" or that it "kills microorganisms"?

Rico checked by collecting samples of the air and sending them off to a lab to be cultured.

The tests showed the air purifiers that promise to reduce germs do. Although the top-rated Whirlpool doesn't make an anti bacterial claim, it does just as good a job.


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